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How do other people do it?

(16 Posts)
43yrsandnofriends Sun 22-May-16 03:47:23

Maintain friendships. I've spent the past 2 hours searching fucking Facebook and realised every single friendship I've ever had never lasted. From school until now. 43 years & not one friend to speak of. I have no fucking idea what it is that I do wrong. I watch how easy going other people are around me & I just can't be that not-awkward-easy-to-talk-to sort of person naturally but I try so bloody hard & it clearly has no effect in masking how bloody weird I must come across. And yet I don't think I am weird. I'm boring, but I try not to bore people. I feel like I model what other people do but clearly don't do it as well as others & just can't get past that barrier to make lasting friendships. I'm conscious of babbling on, the more aware I am of the silence that hangs in the air when I try & make conversation and yet if I don't talk I know that no one would start a conversation with me. It's so bloody frustrating and soul destroying knowing that all the people I've tried to connect with have all, in a crushingly similar fashion, dropped me, not returned calls/messages and actively excluded me at various stages of my life.

I'm just so fucking lonely. I have no one to lean on, to help me deal with the hard stuff & I'm just weary with loneliness. I'm continually working well outside my comfort zone to make sure my DD doesn't suffer because my 'friends' don't last - she's so sociable & every single time I need to be somewhere for her or interact with others I'm so acutely aware of that chasm between me & everyone around me, and I fake it till I get home & just want to curl up & not deal with it anymore. And yet every day I have to, and every day I get yet another reality check that I am just not like everyone else and get talked about, ignored, excluded.

I've worked in the same place for 15 years next month and I don't have a single friend to speak to, connect with, share a laugh with. I've tried, repeatedly, and it just gets more obvious each time I try that I'm just not the sort of person other people want to even make small talk with. How fucking pathetic is that?

I never thought my life would end up like this. I've tried so hard, despite not being naturally easy going or sociable, and realise now that I put myself through so much fucking stress trying when it's been a total waste of time. And yet I've got years of this shit still to deal with. I just don't want to have to do it anymore, to feel that dread every time I get up, and leave my DD to go to work, knowing I've got 10 hours of being utterly alone in a room of 80+ people. I fucking hate it.sad

treaclesoda Sun 22-May-16 03:56:07

flowers for you. I'm certain you're being too hard on yourself.

My battery is about to go flat so I have to stop posting, but I'll be back in the morning to chat if you're still reading.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Sun 22-May-16 04:15:43

I know what you mean OP as I feel like this at work. The big social things we have every few months are excruciating as I stand around with drink in hand and haven't got any group to go up to and join. I work mainly with men and we get along each day but I don't go for lunch with them as they talk football and rugby most of the time.

I find that meeting people through a shared activity is good. Is there anything you could join to meet people? Maybe it would be an option when DD is a bit bigger? I never became friends with my DD's friends' parents, I think any friendship like that tend to be superficial and a bit competitive. Or maybe that was just the ones I saw.

winkywinkola Sun 22-May-16 07:10:24

I feel the same. I am of no interest to people. They'd rather talk to other people, if you see what I mean.

I was reading about friendship apps being developed, like Tindr but for friends. That sounds interesting.

hazelangell Sun 22-May-16 07:22:03

I used to feel like this but then I realised that I didn't enjoy my own company so why would I expect anyone else to? for me it was completely a confidence thing and so I worked on that, it sounds odd to some people but I used positive affirmations and would literally tell myself how kind/amazing/special/unique I am every single day - and weirdly it worked! Once I felt I was someone worth knowing everything changed, I felt confident enough to ask people to meet up to go different places and to my delight they accepted. I'm very unsociable by nature and would happily never see another person in my life but when I had my son I appreciated I needed to change that for his sake and really worked on.
Another thing you could try is maybe organise a work event that could/would impress people? or set yourself a small challange every week to try and meet people or get to know people better (if it's something you wouldn't normally do or is something out of your comfort zone) - so just ask someone if they'd like to meet up for lunch/coffee, fancy going to watch a film you've been dying to see at the cinema etc
Good luck OP, my mum is in a very similar situation as are many of my friends mums so this isn't uncommon.

HappyJanuary Sun 22-May-16 08:06:17

I expect you are now in a pattern where you expect rejection, and this will have a huge impact on your confidence and interactions. I wonder whether some counselling might help?

Do you consider yourself an introvert? There is a lovely book called 'Quiet' by Susan Cain that I enjoyed reading because I recognised myself on every page.

There's nothing wrong with being introverted, or boring, or any of the things you purport to be. Millions of people are, and most of them are faking it in public just like you.

The key I guess is in finding two or three like-minded people to connect with. Look around at the school gate, or children's parties, or the workplace, and they will be there. Whatever you think, the whole world is not made up of happy sociable people all effortlessly getting along. Look for the mum who stands by herself or turns up right on time so she doesn't have to talk to anyone, or the work colleague who avoids the social events and goes out for lunch because she can't stand making small talk in the staffroom.

Be optimistic. Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't.

swingofthings Sun 22-May-16 08:16:34

My experience is that the friends I build a real relationship with are those I share activities with so that we then build a real common interest/bond that leads to start having more in depth discussions, often personal, and it is at that stage that even if we stop doing the same activities, move, don't see each other for months, the relationship is established for good.

I have probably about 25 people in my life that I would count as friends (ie. beyond acquaintances). Of course I can't see all of them all the time, but I try to keep in contact and see them every 3 to 6 months. Each time we do, it's as if the last time was yesterday.

There is a friend who contact had become more infrequent, again because we shared less in common than we did years ago, but then she asked to meet up and when we did, she admitted that she was experiencing issues with her husband and needed to talk to someone about it. We talked, cried, I told her that she could call me anytime etc... This has brought closer again and since then (and glad to say that husband and her are working things through and going well) we've met much more regularly.

I do find that if there isn't this personal/intimate aspect of the friendship, it doesn't take much for it to dwindle away. Of course it has to be both ways so both can feel comfortable with it.

treaclesoda Sun 22-May-16 08:19:04

What I wanted to post during the night but couldn't, as my battery was going flat, was pretty much was Hazel has just said.

When I was younger (a lot younger, teenager younger) I really struggled with friendships. I felt like no one really liked me, that they just put up with me, that I was constantly at risk of being excluded from things. So I tried to overcompensate. And in my case I did that by extinguishing my own personality and just agreeing with everyone else all the time. And I constantly apologised for the tiniest of things, just to let everyone know that their feelings were more important than mine. I was exhausted and miserable. And people really disliked me, which hurt terribly.

When I was about 18 I had some sort of lightbulb moment where, like the PP says, I realised that I didn't even like myself. And if I found myself unbearable then it was no surprise that everyone else did too. So I made a huge effort to turn things around in my head and think 'it's your loss, not mine' if people didn't like me. And to be myself. It wasn't easy, but it became second nature. And whilst I'm not claiming to be some life and soul of the party, loved by all (I'm not much of a socialiser anyway, and I'm essentially quite quiet) I seem to be able to get on with people, and make friendships as I meet new people.

I have recently come across a couple of people who clearly lacked confidence to the point where they were almost apologetic for even existing and I noticed that a group of people could be chatting happily and when one of these women joined in, she would almost inevitably apologise for joining the group, put herself down etc, and then suddenly the group who were chatting quite happily would tense up and become awkward because people really don't know how to respond to that, and it is draining to have to constantly reassure someone. Then, naturally, the woman thought that she had done something to offend people, when she hadn't, and would conclude that she must have done something wrong. So next time, she would apologise even more and a vicious circle was born.

I know that sounds like a sort of victim blaming, and I don't mean it to sound that way, it is just something that I have observed over and over again.

That was slightly off topic OP, as I have no idea how you are in social situations, but it came into my head as I was typing.

I do think the number one rule is to like yourself though, when you like yourself, other people join in and want to spend time with this really likeable person.

43yrsandnofriends Sun 22-May-16 11:12:20

Thank you for the replies. I do appreciate the time you've all taken to answer and help me.

I'm trying to get my head around a few of the replies but I'm struggling a bit with explaining things. I recognise some of what you've said, from my younger past-self, and I've tried really hard to change things, change myself and get beyond whatever it is that seems to hold me back. I'm in a difficult 'phase' that just seems to be unending and all of the suggestions about doing something I enjoy, trying to get out and do things to connect with other people who enjoy the same things, try and find like minded people to connect with - I've done all of those things and I think my realisation over the past few months is that they all ended in a similar way. Things I enjoyed, with the people who shared those interests, all ending up with me being dumped for someone else i.e. music/gigs/theatre/sports/study/parenting etc.

I do bore myself, and I'm not overly keen on my own company if I'm honest, but I'm a lot less stressed and uptight if I'm on my own than if I'm in company. But I don't really dislike myself either. I'm not a bad person, I'm not cruel or nasty, not rude or ignorant. I've always been the person others came to for help/guidance etc. and the one thing I've always been good at is working through problems and helping others figure things out - but as soon as I've served my purpose it's like I don't exist. And God forbid I need that help from anyone else myself. And that so hurtful for me, knowing how much I've tried for others when they have clearly just used me for their own ends. I do struggle with the positive thinking though - it seems like I struggle with the balance in my ego too - I shy away from telling myself I'm special/worthwhile/important or whatever as whenever I've tried that in the past it comes across, I think, to others that I'm over confident or my confidence doesn't match the reality of what they see IYSWIM. I've long since stopped apologising for being me, and I no longer do that overcompensating thing mentioned, which I was certainly guilty of when younger. But I still can't find that 'thing' that means other people respond to my efforts in a way that gets me somewhere.

I've had counselling and that helped me get past the problem I used to have with feeling that there was something wrong with me because some people disliked me - really disliked me - and I came to terms with the fact I don't have to try with everyone, and it's ok that not everyone likes me. So I've really tried hard to get to grips with my self esteem and anxiety over social interaction and friendships etc. I think it's just recently hit me just how bloody hard this is, constantly, and I'm just weary of keeping on trying and getting absolutely nowhere.

My personal situation makes things difficult to do more - I've been in dire financial straights for about 8 years and that's limited my choices. I'm a lone parent with little support, which again limits my opportunities to do things where I may get the opportunity to meet new people. I know that won't last forever and things are heading in the direction of getting better in the near future so I should be able to feel positive about that, but I'm just not feeling it right now because my past history tells me that even when I don't have these barriers, I'm actually no better off friendship wise. I'm aware of these things, which is why I think I find the whole work scenario so draining because my whole adult life, my social interactions/connections stemmed from work & to get to this point and realise just how little impact I make in the situation I face every day is really soul destroying.

I know I've no choice but to keep trying but right now I feel like crawling under my duvet and never getting back out. I just hate having to deal with this every single day. The breadth of how much this has impacted me over the years was so clear last night, and the realisation that school friends, work friends, family, all ended up shitting on me from a great height at some point over the years, has really hit me hard. And me being so spectacularly dim, I didn't see it at the time with a lot of them. I've been excluded from family 'gatherings', ignored by various friendship groups I tried with over the years in various settings - new mums, school mums, work friends, old friends. All scarily similar in how they've 'dumped' me despite my efforts to keep up the connection. I think that what makes the thought of trying all over again so depressing, knowing that the likelihood of a repeat seems so certain, why bother? Which is self defeating and self pitying I know, but I'm really struggling to summon the energy to try again.

pallasathena Mon 23-May-16 09:12:36

Could it be that you are just too nice? I have a friend who is so well balanced, so caring and respectful that some people see her as a bit of a push-over. Its a bit like mistaking kindness for weakness if you see what I mean. She isn't weak. She's just a really good person and because some of the people we both know (male and female) like to bitch and sneer, she doesn't fit in with them and is left out of arrangements. She's also a better person and I don't think people like that mirror being held up to their nasty little flaws.
Be brave and adopt an air of 'couldn't care less'. She's working on that and its really helping her self confidence. The trick I think is not to care.

Piemernator Mon 23-May-16 09:36:23

When you say you bore yourself do you mean you have little to talk about?

I can join in with all conversations. DH calls it my iPod mode. If people are chatting about something I don't know anything about or have nothing to contribute I tend to ask them a question though I may inwardly be thinking I don't give two shits what their opinion is really but I like this person therefore I will endure their answers. Example below.

I'm not interested in actually baking apart from maybe eating cake occasionally but one of the Mums at school was a baking Goddess and its a serious hobby for her, she is also a lovely person. But I have stock of cake stories. I know about the history of cake making as I read a book on it a few years, DH experimented making a wedding cake for us, I had to improvise helping out a friend put her wedding cake together as she had messed up the pillars and though I don't bake I'm good at constructing stuff and saved the day about two hours before the ceremony. She was interested in all of these.

I actually like my own company as well and have to have time alone every day. As the family were at home all weekend I popped out for a walk by myself yesterday for about 2 hours. It had to be done after 2 whole days of them around me all the time. Accepting you need time alone and it not being weird or odd is a step in the right direction.

springydaffs Mon 23-May-16 09:53:41

Then get back into therapy and stay there. At least you'll have one person in your corner who is interested to talk and listen to you at length. Not perfect - but not bad, either. Therapists direct us towards ourselves.

Because this pattern was probably modelled in childhood - and has gone on repeating ever since. Pp's are right that this frustrating and extremely painful pattern comes from rejecting ourselves at a core level (you say you find yourself boring, don't even like your own company) because we were, crucially, rejected at a core level. Therapy helps us to see that the people who were supposed to love us unconditionally are flawed people and that their conclusions, or default behaviour, is not the final conclusion about us.

Contact BACP and take a look at the list of therapists in your area, narrow the list down, contact the ones you like the look of. Most offer a sliding fee scale, just ask. I do understand dire financial straits so I'm not being flippant here. But IMO some things are essential and we just have to find a way. Somehow.

You are lovely and precious but you don't know that yet. I'm serious, it's not feelgood shit to say that.

KittensandKnitting Mon 23-May-16 10:13:59

Gosh these stories resonate with me, I am 38 and also have no friends and it makes me so sad at times, but I also think I would prefer to be in this situation than being taken advantage off, which I was. I am lucky in that I like my own company, lots of personal hobbies but wish I had that "friend" you could just talk too, I always seem to be that "friend" but it's never reciprocated and as a result because I got exhausted of always being there for people and then once I had served my purpose being dumped, I became more wary of making friendships. I am a sensitive kind soul (not weak) and I think people do sometimes see this as an opportunity to off load, people tell me super personal things really early on they just open up and pour it out, I'm more like a therapist than a friend and once they feel better it's "like thanks for that I'm off to have fun now without you" I am also lots of fun smile but always get excluded it's almost like I know too much.

Piem what you say about baking is really interesting, I think for me as I networked a lot for business I was very good at and very used too "entertaining" others and listening and contributing to their stories as I was the one trying to get them to discuss business with me and my company, maybe I have just fallen into this trap with friends and as a result haven't been meeting people who have the same interests me!

OP I think the key is to try and find your own hobbies and then try to find a group of like minded people, and not care what others think - I wouldn't care if I went out without make up or stuff like that but I do care what people think about me as a person, and really hate the bitching about anybody it instantly makes me walk away!

I'm sorry it's so tough for you flowers

KittensandKnitting Mon 23-May-16 10:18:01

To echo springydaffs you are lovely and precious you just haven't met the right people.

This just came to me as something I remember from years ago when I was very down.

writing down I like <your name> because...

and list ten things
Twenty if you can
Hell a whole notebook!

It could be anything, because I am kind, because I am a good mother, I work hard, my arse looks fabulous in XYZ pair of jeans

Then read it back out loud.

Resilience16 Mon 23-May-16 20:54:52 is a myth that most people have a million friends, that simply isn't true. Maybe in the age of FaceTube etc it may seem that way but the reality is most people are lucky if they have a handful of real friends.
It is a myth that most people are skiptoeing through life, the majority of us are probably faking it too, and even Mrs popular mum at the school gates or Miss Sparky Social work colleague are probably just as insecure and full of self doubt as you are.
The world doesn't hate you. You don't seem to be very keen on yourself though. That is really what you need to work on. You don't have to go and stand on a corner with a megaphone (although you can if you want!) but you do need to start telling yourself you are a fantastic, worthwhile person. You may cringe at the thought of doing that, but if you spend 5 minutes every morning and evening saying that to yourself, it does actually start to work, you start feeling better about yourself and other people prefer to be around people who feel good about themselves.
Without sounding like Pollyanna start counting your blessings too. I'm mean seriously count your blessings, every good thing you have from a roof over your head, to having clean water to drink and clothes on your back. It is easy to get bogged down in the negatives in life and about all the things we don't have,but you can choose to focus on them and depress yourself even more, or you can chose to focus on the positives. I do this at 5am when I wake up and can't get back to sleep, and it works for me.
Hope you find some of this useful x

springydaffs Mon 23-May-16 22:17:01

Great post resilience

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